Your home should reflect your personal taste, but it should also be as functional as possible. When we are seeking design inspiration—be it through magazines, websites, or in consultation with designers—it is important to remember that a home should be at least as livable as it is beautiful.
As we age our needs change, so will our choices for home renovation and design. Families with more than one generation living under one roof should consider incorporating multigenerational design features such as wider traffic lanes, smooth-top cooktops with front-mounted controls, bathroom features that double as grab-bars (toilet paper holders, towel racks, etc.), and pull-out steps that are great for kids.
When designing for single-generation households, keeping an eye toward the future—whether that means aging-in-place considerations, or the possibility of another generation joining you down the line—is a good idea.
If you are of the baby boomer generation you may already be making small adjustments in your home to accommodate for different abilities. Some baby boomers are downsizing, having the need for less space with the kids off on their own; others want to keep some flexibility to allow family and friends enough room to comfortably visit. Small changes made now can make a big difference later, and without adding any kind of “institutional” look to the home. In the bathroom, tubs like the non-slip surfaces, curb-less showers, and shower seating can make a big difference. Lever-style knobs on doors and cabinets can be easier on joints, and wall-mounted sinks leave leg room available. In the kitchen, U- or L-shaped designs open up lanes of traffic, while multi-level, pull-out counter surfaces accommodate users of different heights and abilities.
Most Gen-Xers are probably not thinking seriously about the kind of practical design decisions that Baby Boomers are making, but then again they just may be, particularly if they are caring for an aging parent. Gen-Xers are, however, likely to be raising families which translates into the need for kid-friendly choices. Some of these are similar to considerations
of Baby Boomers—multi-level counters, non-slip tub surfaces, and even shower seating can come in handy for family members of all ages—while others are more kid-specific: a kitchen island is a great place for children to study or help parents prepare dinner; shallow base cabinetry and storage for kids to keep their own dishes, utensils, and snacks (similarly, a shelf or drawer in the fridge dedicated to the kids’ snacks); a microwave drawer where kids can safely heat up their food without having to reach up high.
Generation Y may be too young to really have to worry about aging-in-place—after all, they will probably move a few times—but it’s still a good idea to implement practical solutions that make for great living, regardless of age or ability. Some things consider in a first or “starter” home: wide lanes of traffic to accommodate visitors, a variety of storage areas (high, low, deep shelves and shallower ones that are easier to reach), and non-slip bathroom surfaces to prevent injury keep everyone happy and safe, without sacrificing a bit of aesthetic beauty.
Do you need help designing for a specific age group, or for multiple age groups in one place? Stop in to Cabinets & Designs and let our talented design staff help you!